What you really need when you have a baby

I have lots of friends having babies at the moment and one friend asked me the other day what she really needs for her new arrival. She is moving house a few months after the baby is born and doesn’t want to set everything up only to take it all down when she moved. This got me thinking about what you really need and what your baby really needs. I have put together a list of my must haves.

– a good cot, your baby is going to be sleeping in there for a few years and you need it to last the distance. We opted for more expensive cots that could be made into toddler beds when the time comes. The boys room isn’t all that big so it will be difficult to fit two single beds in there so they will be in their cots for a while, at least until we can move some other furniture out of there.

-a change table at a good height for you. I was told when I was pregnant that I didn’t really need a change table. Thankfully we didn’t listen to that piece of advice and got one. You spend a lot of time standing changing nappies, clothes and nappies again and it is much nicer on your back if you don’t have to bend over to do it.

– cheap, easy to clean highchair. We have two Ikea highchairs and you obviously don’t need them straight away but when the time is right they are by far the easiest chairs to clean. Once the trays come off they also stack nicely which is a great space saver. There are so many fancy highchairs with a padded, reclined seat but once your baby starts feeding themselves they just get way too messy! Another good thing about the Ikea ones is that if they are really filthy then you can take them outside and hose them off!

– bouncers. Unfortunately it is extremely hard to carry two babies no matter what age they are so we made sure we had bouncers from when they came home. Even with one baby I think a bouncer would be a fantastic investment. We only had cheap ones that had a toy bar and a vibrating music maker and I am still using them at 9 months. I use them to help get me set up for tandem nursing the boys too but even if you don’t use them for that they are invaluable. If you have two crying, upset babies putting them both in the bouncers and bouncing them both is by far the easiest way to settle them if it’s just you.

– lots of wondersuits. When babies are little it is often much easier to dress them in a romper/all-in-one/bodysuit. You don’t have to worry about their shirts coming untucked and their back/bellies getting cold. Most of them are easy to do up and they stretch so are easy to get on and off.

– plenty of square cloth nappies to use as spew rags. I could not believe how much the boys spewed and they weren’t reflux babies at all. Plus there is two of them. We used white squares as nappies and coloured squares as spew rags.

– if you are breastfeeding a few good nursing singlets. Until your milk comes in and settles again you may find that it is too uncomfortable to wear nursing bras. Most singlets have enough support in them to be comfortable. Also don’t get fitted for a nursing bra until at least 6 weeks. For most women their breast settle down to a more reasonable size after the 6 week mark so if you get fitted before then you are likely to need a different size in a few weeks.

– a play mat that bub can lie under and have things dangling above them. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one or anything just something that can keep them entertained while you shower/brush teeth/ brush hair/feel human.

– swaddle wraps. Our boys loved being swaddled but always wanted their arms up which meant they would unwrap themselves and wake up with a fright. We used love to swaddle bags and the boys loved them. Their hands were up but there was no way for them to get out. We used them until the boys were about four months and then graduated to a normal sleeping bag at night and blankets during the day.

-finally a good pram. You want one that will last the distance but isn’t too pricy. We made sure that it would fit in the boot of our car because we have a smaller car. We also decided not to get a side by side because of the width but they are usually lighter and easier to set up and take down again. We have a Strider Plus and love it! The newer compact looks fantastic as well, it can actually take two capsules and it not as wide as the plus.

I think that is my completed list. If anyone has any other suggestions feel free to add them to the comments.

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Mother’s Guilt

Today I was cleaning up the kitchen after the boys had their lunch while they played on the floor in the lounge room like they always do. After I finished I went in to get the boys ready for their afternoon nap. When I went in I saw that Ben had vomited all over himself and the floor. I felt terrible that I had no idea when he had vomited and that he had been lying in it for who knows how long. He was still happy, playing and laughing with his brother but that didn’t stop me filling guilty. While I was cleaning him and the vomit up I started thinking about the other things that make me feel guilty and I made a list.

I feel guilty that

– Next weekend I am taking my husband out for dinner for his birthday without the boys. It will be the first time since they came home that someone besides me will be putting them to bed. I am so nervous about how they will go but I really want to spend this time with Will. This makes me fill guilty because I want to go out without them!

– I will return to work at the beginning of September. I will only work night duty but for my first shift I have to work a day for orientation because I have been away for over six months. I will leave home at 6:30am and wont get home until 8:00pm that night. That means the boys will still be in bed when I leave and will be back in bed by the time I get home. I am feeling guilty that I will be away from them for a WHOLE day!

– Sometimes I am wanting nap time to come just so I can have some time to myself. The boys have been very unsettled over the last week or so (I’m thinking teeth but really have no idea), and because of this I am hanging out for nap time some days.

– I don’t spend enough time with my husband. Between him working and studying and me looking after the babies and the house there isn’t always much time left for us. Which is another reason I really want to have dinner next weekend.

– I feel like I am neglecting my dogs! Since the boys have come home I can count on two hands the number of times the dogs have been for a walk. There was even a period when the boys first came home that we would sometimes forget to feed the dogs! Thank goodness that has now passed but it is way to hard for me to take both the boys and the dogs for a walk!

– Whenever I see friends or family I talk about the boys sooooooo much. I’m sure that my friends are so sick of hearing about them!

Well I feel less guilty now that’s off my chest!

Coping with Twins

Today the boys had their six month needles and I went to breakfast with some friends from work afterwards. They were all saying how well I was looking and asking how I am coping so well with twins. It got me thinking about how I am coping with the both of them and how other mums cope with their babies.

I jumped on the internet and tried to find something about mums coping okay with babies, twins, children, anything and I couldn’t. I could only find information about not coping with twins or babies. This got me thinking even more, should I be guilty for finding myself coping okay with the boys. When people ask how I am going I tell them I’m going great because that is true but is that hard for other mums to hear me saying when they aren’t coping with one.

So I’m wondering did anyone else find that they coped fine with one or two babies, maybe they didn’t cope well with their first but fine with their second, or maybe the third baby is the hardest.

I’m thinking that everyone is different. I had an extremely supportive husband who wanted to help me any way he could but I also knew that he was going to be at work a lot of the time and I needed to be able to look after both boys on my own so right from the beginning I did most things by myself. Don’t get me wrong Will helped whenever I needed it but I also felt I didn’t need to ask to often for his help. Maybe because I saw my mum raise three girls on her own and learnt a lot from her. It has made me wonder are more people coping and not telling people because of the people who aren’t coping.

Of course I have had some hard days. A few weeks ago the boys both screamed and cried for nearly three hours. Will was at home for the first hour but he had to go to work after that. I couldn’t do anything to make the boys happy. In the end I put them both on the floor in their bouncers with the TV on and say between them bouncing them until they finally fell asleep. That was hard and I don’t want that to happen again but if it does I know that I will be able to cope.

For me the way I have kept my sanity is to have a routine which I have written about in a previous post. The boys always go to bed at 7pm each night so I know I have a few hours each night to myself where I can do whatever I want to. I know what is going to be happening at different times during the day and that helps to plan my days. Routines don’t work for everyone but for me that have been my saviour!

Now the boys are only six months old so I’m sure things will get much harder when they are crawling and walking but for the moment I am enjoying every moment of being their mummy!

Six Months

Wow, hard to believe but today is the boys half birthday. This day six months ago was both the happiest and scariest moments of my life. I will never forget Ben’s birth and subsequent resuscitation or Alex’s birth and holding them both for the first time. I will never forget the sheer exhaustion that over came me a few hours after giving birth to them. I will never forget the overwhelming love that I felt for them as they entered the world. I never thought that my heart could swell so much to love these baby boys and my wonderful husband but it did the instant they were born.

The last six months have been hard but the most wonderful times of my life. In the beginning it was a big blur, everything going by so fast but me being so sleep deprived I felt like time had stopped all at the same time. But then it slowed and I am now able to enjoy everything there is to being a mum of not one but two beautiful boys.

Following are some things that I wish I knew when I was pregnant.

– working night duty does not prepare you for the lack of sleep that will happen over the first few months, nothing can!

– birth is hard work and it is ok to not have visitors until you are ready

– no one can explain why or how you can be filled with so much love when you baby enters the world, but it is okay if you don’t feel this straight away. I did, but not everyone will

– not everyone will need their husbands to stay in hospital with them. They are better used when you and the baby/babies get home

– the second night of a baby’s life is a blur because they want to feed all night! Don’t worry this is apparently normal!

– make sure you use lots of ice down there! I healed fantastically and had hardly any pain but not everyone is so lucky!

– breastfeeding gets easier, if you can stick it out after the first 3 months it is much easier. But if you are not coping you are not a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

– your mother in law is just trying to help, but explain nicely why you are doing it your way

– your mother is just trying to help, but explain nicely why you are doing it your way

– babies get way more fun at about 5 months old, they start laughing and giggling and love hearing your voice

– babies can be left in a safe place while you wee, or hang washing out, or eat, or shower, don’t worry

– if you have inside dogs their hair will get everywhere but it’s okay, babies love dog hair!

– travelling is not impossible, babies are just little versions of you, take them with you and enjoy!

– babies will eat sand and not enjoy it but will keep going back for more!

– most importantly, you are an amazing mummy and you are doing your best!

Ben and Alex at 6 months                      Our first trip to the beach

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Special Care

I had a friend ask me the other day how I coped leaving my babies at the hospital when I was discharged home. It got me thinking about how I coped with them being so far away from me. I was really lucky in that I had two close friends that also had premmie babies so I could ask them lots of questions.

I was also ‘prepared’, well as prepared as I could be, for special care nursery. My doctor told me very early on that I may not be able to carry the boys full term given that I wasn’t that big and my boys were big for their gestation. I was given steroids at 27 weeks and told that if I went into labour before 35 weeks I would have a second dose then.

The whole time I was pregnant I had two goals for how far to get. The first was 30 weeks because that was when I started maternity leave and the second was 32 weeks because that meant I was able to stay in Toowoomba rather than having to go to Brisbane. When I passed 32 weeks I was so excited and relieved, I even thought I might actually make it to 37 weeks. That wasn’t the case and I went into labour when the boys were 33 weeks and 5 days. I had been given a 2nd round of steriods two days prior when my waters broke for Ben.

When I gave birth to the bos I was able to hold them both briefly before they were taken to the special care nursery. That night on my way back to my room I was able to go in and see them. I was so scared to touch them given that they were so small and hocked up to the monitor and had their drips in. Even the second day when they came out of the humidicribs I was still so scared to touch them. I had held newborn babies before but never a baby as small as the boys were. My first hold of the boys since they were born my heart was pounding thinking that I might be hurting them or getting them tangled in all their lines and things. The nurse that handed me Alex was fantastic. She placed him in my arms and made sure I was comfortable before she went and saw someone else. I was less nervous when I held Ben and over the next day my confidence grew and I wasn’t scared to hold them or change their nappies.

On the Saturday after I gave birth I was discharged from hospital. The boys were still on 3 hourly feeds so we only had time to take my things home and get some lunch before we were due back up there to feed them. In saying that it was awful. I have never felt anything like the feeling I had in my stomach walking out of that hospital without my babies. I knew they were not going to be coming home with me but I part of me didn’t actually realise this until I walked out those doors no longer pregnant but not yet a mother. I know I was a mother but leaving them there made me feel like I wasn’t. It was like I was in limbo, no longer pregnant but not really a mother either.

The first few days were the hardest. The first night at home was terrible. We stayed at the hospital until their last feed at about 10pm and then went home. I was expressing every four hours overnight so set my alarm and expressed twice that first night. I had set up the pump in the boy’s room and looking into their cots knowing they were here but not here with me was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Over the next few weeks it definitely got easier. I still hated each night leaving them knowing that it was going to be about 8 hours until I saw them again but I knew they were getting looked after really well. The nursing staff there were just amazing! They always put my mind at ease each night telling me who was on overnight and that they would ring me if anything happened. The boys were great so they didn’t ring me except in the mornings to say they were awake and wanting a feed!

Alex was able to breast feed from about day 4. From day 9 he only needed breastfeeding and didn’t need any top ups. Ben who fed for the first time on day one decided it was going to take a little longer to figure it all out. The week before we went home was the hardest with the feeding. Ben would try to attach but if he didn’t get it straight away then he would get frustrated and scream and scream. It was terrible and I felt like such a failure for not being able to breast feed him properly. Then on the Friday before we went home it all sunk in for him and he fed all day without fuss!

I fed them separately to begin with until I got the hang of breastfeeding in general. After 10 days I think I started twin feeding them. Obviously it would only work if Ben was able to attach to begin with but by the time we went home every feed was a twin feed.

I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to breast feed them. It was something that I really wanted to do so I did a lot of research prior to having the boys to get me ready and in the right frame of mind. Thankfully my milk started to come in on day 4 and by the time I went home from hospital it was there. I didn’t have enough to begin with for the boys not to require a little bit of formula but it wasn’t long before I had built up a supply in the hospital fridge. I would express with a double pump for 10 minutes after every feed and 10 minutes each side overnight. The first day that there was stuff left in the fridge at the end of the day was super exciting and when I was able to put my first lot in the freezer was even more exciting. I came home from hospital with litres of milk that I have slowly been using over the months. Even now I still express each morning so I can add milk to their cereal.

Ben developed jaundice on day 3 and Alex on day 4 so they each had phototherapy. We were lucky in that the hospital had a blanket that they were able to wrap each of the boys in and it gave them the phototherapy. It was great because we were still able to hold them and I could still try to feed them each feed. Apart from that we were really lucky in that apart from feeding tubes and an IV for the first few days they didn’t need any other medical intervention just fattening up.

The day the doctor told us we could room in was so exciting. We were excited because it meant that my grandparents and Will’s aunt and cousins would be able to meet the boys for the first time. It also meant that the following day we would be taking our boys home for the first time. That night it hospital Ben and Alex decided that they were going to feed every 2 hours, and given it would take me an hour to feed them Will and I were both very sleep deprived the next day! But we were taking our baby boys home after 3 weeks in hospital so we didn’t really care!

The boys were one day short of three weeks when we went home. Taking them out and putting them in the car they were just so very small! It really hit home that day that we had not just one but two beautiful baby boys!

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Benjamin and Alexander only a few hours old. Alex looks heaps bigger than Ben, even now Alex is the bigger of the two.

 

Routines

Ben and Alex were about three months old when I put them into a more firm routine. Up until that time I had been using an eat, play, sleep routine but not following any times. The boys were feeding every 3 to 4 hours and I found it hard sticking to times until the three-month mark. In saying that right from when we bought the boys home we started a bedtime routine. They would always have a feed at 6pm and go to bed at 7pm. I loved knowing each night I would have a few hours to myself so I could have dinner, relax and spend time with Will. Now that the boys are a little older they have put themselves into a routine.

I read Tizzie Hall’s “Save Our Sleep” book and loved it. We are now using her routines but the boys more fell into them rather than me putting them into it. They always wake up at 7am each morning and go to bed each night at 7pm. Following is my daily routine.

Wake and breast feed at 7am

Breakfast at 8am

Sleep 9am until 11am

Breast feed 11am

Lunch 12pm

Sleep 1pm until 3pm

Breast feed 3pm

Sometimes nap about 4:30pm

Dinner 5pm

Bath 5:45pm

Breast feed 6:15pm

Bed 7pm

I am still breastfeeding but have introduced a small amount of solids. Since starting solids they are sleeping through 11pm until 7am most nights. Sometimes they will wake around 3am or 4 am and I will give them a feed then but I still always wake them at 7 ready to start the day.

People often ask why I am using a routine, why don’t I just demand feed them. Well with two I find it too hard not knowing when I am doing things. Even if I had just one I think that I would be keen to use a routine. I am not super strict with it and don’t do anything outside the routine but I am finding that I know when its the easiest for me to do things based on what the boys are doing. The boys also just fell into this routine and it was only when I was re reading “Save Our Sleep” that I realised that I was doing almost what she recommends in the book.

I was also finding before they started on this routine that they were not sleeping very much during the day. Each afternoon the boys would be super cranky but not wanting to sleep, they seemed bored. We brought them each a Jolly Jumper and since using that each day they are sleeping so much better. I was wondering if maybe they weren;t getting enough stimulation and exercise prior to this. They just love the jumpers and spend ages in them each afternoon.

Sometimes they still have cranky periods in the afternoon but I have found if I take them for a walk they will have a little nap and be much happier once they have woken up.

I also find that Ben sometimes needs more sleep than Alex. Ben will often be ready for his nap maybe 15 minutes early and if I don;t put him down he will get extremely cranky and over tired. It reminds me that they are two individuals and what works for one may not work for the other.

Routines aren’t for everyone but I would not be able to cope without mine.

First trip to Melbourne

A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Melbourne with my family to celebrate my aunty’s 50th birthday. It was a surprise trip and was only decided on the Wednesday before that we would all fly down. It was also the first time my boys got to meet my older sister. I also got to spend time with my 10 month old nephew who I haven’t seen since he was 4 months old.

Before we left I jumped on the internet and tried to find some information about flying with babies and then flying with twins. I found a post on the AMBA website from a lady who has flown multiple times with her twins. Her biggest piece of advice was to fly late so that the babies sleep most of the flight. That worked very well for the trip down. Our flight left Brisbane at 6pm and that is normally when the boys have their final feed of the day before going to bed. I obviously wasn’t able to twin feed on the plane, so we bottled them both while we were taking off.

They both had unsettled periods because they were overtired by the time they had finished their bottles and they were in a strange place but after a little bit of a rock from me they both went to sleep and slept the entire way.

Babies are heavy! Especially when holding them while they are sleeping. When we landed in Melbourne we put the boys into a Baby Bjorn each and carried them until we got to our hire car. The both continued to dose on and off until they were in the car and then they slept the 40 minutes it took us to get to my sister’s house.

We hired both the car seats and a twin pram for use while we were there and it was so much easier than having to take all our extra bits on the plane. Highly recommended if you don’t need to take your own things. Everything we hired was clean and the pram looked almost brand new.

The trip home the boys were a little more unsettled and didn’t sleep as much but because we were flying out earlier in the evening we fed them on the decent so they were getting tired not being able to nap as they would normally at that time.

Overall we all coped great flying to Melbourne! Definitely keen to do it again sometime!